VATICAN CITY

Conclave can set vote date as remaining cardinal arrives

The last cardinal who will participate in the conclave to elect the next pope arrived in Rome on Thursday, meaning a date can now be set for the election. One U.S. cardinal said a decision on the start date is expected soon.

Some American and other cardinals had said they wanted to continue the pre-conclave meetings that have been going on all week for as long as it takes so they can discern who among them has the stuff to be pope and discuss the problems of the church.

Some Vatican-based cardinals, defensive about criticisms of the Vatican’s internal governance that have been aired recently, seemed to want to get on with the vote, arguing there’s no reason to delay.

Thursday afternoon, U.S. Cardinal Roger Mahony tweeted that the discussions were “reaching a conclusion.”

ROME

Berlusconi cites ‘persecution’ after second guilty verdict

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi lashed out at magistrates on Thursday, after earning his second conviction in five months: a one-year jail term for leaking information from a judicial inquiry to damage a political rival.

In October, Berlusconi was sentenced to four years for tax fraud. He did not go to prison because he appealed, and the same is likely to happen with his latest case. Furthermore, the new charges will be dropped in July or August because of the statute of limitations.

Berlusconi was found guilty of passing to his brother Paolo, owner of the Il Giornale newspaper, illegally-sourced wiretaps of former center-left leader Piero Fassino discussing with the head of the Unipol insurance group a takeover bid on Antonveneta bank.

Paolo Berlusconi was given a 27-month jail term for his role.

Silvio Berlusconi reacted by renewing claims that he was the victim of politically motivated courts. His supporters noted that leaks from judicial inquiries are commonplace in Italy and that they are very rarely punished.

“It is really impossible to tolerate such judicial persecution, which has been ongoing for 20 years, and which heightens each time there are particularly difficult political moments,” the media mogul-turned-politician said in a statement.

MOSCOW

Dancer: Planned an attack on director, but not with acid

Pale and haggard after hours of questioning, a leading Bolshoi dancer told a Moscow court that he gave his blessing to an attack on the ballet’s artistic director but never imagined that the assailant would go as far as to throw acid in his face.

The arrest and confessions of Pavel Dmitrichenko, 29, who danced the parts of both heroes and villains in the Bolshoi’s famed classical ballets, has dealt a painful blow to the theater’s reputation.

Sergei Filin, 42, suffered severe burns to his face and eyes in the Jan. 17 attack. He has undergone operations aimed at saving his sight.

Facing the judge on Thursday, Dmitrichenko said he had told the suspected perpetrator of the attack about his grievances concerning the Bolshoi and his arguments with Filin.

“When he said: ‘OK, let me beat him up, hit him upside the head,’ I agreed, but that is all that I admit to doing,” Dmitrichenko said in court.

— From news service reports